I spent nearly a decade working as a technical and customer support specialist in an inbound contact centre. I was the person who answered the phone from customers angry over their bill or because their internet, tv or cell phone was not working. People tend to forget their manners when talking to a person over phone who works in a subservient position to them. The company was all about squeezing every last cent out of their workers, and most of management seemed to almost gleefully accept their role as pseudo-slavers. It was probably the most soul-killing job I ever did.
After 5 years of it, both my doctor and I hated it. I told myself many of these excuses, and finally owned up to the fact that without a better resume, I wasn’t confident I could do much better for pay, and when the pay is already just above minimum wage, that’s a really hard one to swallow. I also had enough friends in other contact centres to know I was just jumping fires to switch companies, and at least I liked a group of the people I worked with – some friendships I still maintain today. I made a concious decision that I was actively choosing to stay there until I found a better career, instead of meekly and passively thinking I was doomed to remain there.
And so I started working on myself. What else I would want to do, what I was looking for. I decided money was not the leading factor, though all the other items had to be superb for me to accept a lesser wage. Working with a friend, I slowly started to identify transferrable skills, and piece together a resume, and applying to positions with other companies. While it is likely a process that would have taken most people only a few months, my confidence was in the early stages of being built up, and so it took longer for me.
As well, where I finally decided I wanted to be was notorious to take a year or more to go through the entire selection process. I also had to factor in that due to varying shifts that kept me from having any consisent time off, I would need to use my meagre amount of vacation or sick leave for any interviews I wanted to attend, as management was not exactly open to my career growth.
2 months prior to my 9 year anniversary with that company, I happily bounced into work with a spring in my step that was highly unusual, and caused some confused looks from others. I was so happy, I actually went in, on my vacation day – on my birthday in fact – to tender my very polite and professional resignation, which gave no room for them to try to convince me to stay in their specially-reserved section of hell. Multiple supervisors actually approached me after to ask how I got my job with my new employer, as perhaps it was a time for them to change as well.
Oh, that was a happy day that nearly three years later, still brings a smile to my face. After some special handling by awesome managers who recognized the near PTSD-like condition that my old employer had left me in, I’ve found new confidence in myself, and I now thrive in a career that challenges me, welcomes my input, and supports both my personal and professional growth, wherever that may take me.
The best I could offer to others is this: Identify the exuses or reasons of why you are staying where you are. Dream of better, and then figure out how to get there, because it is possible. May be a rocky road, but the smooth ones really do lose their appeal. Decide that your departure from this company is a definite fact, not a far off wish. If for whatever reason, you can’t immediately just quit right now, then decide what your departure entails, and own that decision. Accept it. Make the conscious decision that you are actively choosing to stay where you are for the short term. Draw lines about what you will accept in your continued employment, and give yourself the all-clear that “if x happens, I quit”, and hold that life line firm. Find out what the rules the employer, not necessarily your boss, has about conflict resolution, and follow it. At that point, what is the worst that can happen? You lose a job you have decided you will be leaving. And in that good-bye process, however long it takes, milk it for all it’s worth; every last transferrable skill, training, knowledge and experience. There’s a certain satisfaction to knowing they are just making you that much more valuable to your next employer.
Kudos! It’s great to see Karen’s courage and practical approach to finding better work, rather than accepting jobs that suck!